27 October 2016
A member of the Austrian family of bankers, Ferdinand James Anselm Freiherr von Rothschild (1839-1898) was born in Paris and lived in Vienna before moving to Britain. He was a hereditary baron (freiherr) in the lower Austrian nobility and in Britain was known as Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. He served as Liberal MP for Aylesbury from 1885 until 1898.
In 1874 Ferdinand bought the Buckinghamshire estate near Waddesdon village. Designed by French architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur (1822-1893) in a style based on 16th-century French châteaux, the Manor at Waddesdon was built from 1874 to 1889 to house Ferdinand’s art collection and for entertaining.
Ferdinand left the property to his younger sister Alice Charlotte de Rothschild (1847-1922) and it was subsequently inherited by their great-nephew James Armand de Rothschild (1878-1957), who left it to the National Trust. Although owned by the National Trust, Waddesdon is run semi-independently by investment banker Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild (b 1936) through the Rothschild charity The Alice Trust.
As well as being the National Trust’s second most popular visitor attraction, Waddesdon Manor is also used as a wedding venue and is hired out for location filming. The manor has featured in a variety of films and series, from Carry on… Don’t Lose Your Head and Never Say Never Again to Downton Abbey and The Crown.